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Old January 30th, 2013, 03:03 AM   #1 (permalink)
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A New Film Watching Experience

All I ask of a movie is that it captures my attention. The subject matter does not matter, except in the matter of novelty. I happened to watch Taken 2, with Liam Neeson last night.


He was in Istanbul with his wife and daughter, when he and his wife were kidnapped by bad people. He managed to get a small, hidden phone into his hands and called his daughter, back at the hotel. He successfully guided his daughter to safety from some bad guys hoping to nab her. Knowing that she was safe, he instructed her to open his special suitcase of weapons, etc. He told her to get two hand grenades and a map. He had her draw a circle on the map, the outer lines estimating where he could be held (he counted time while hooded in the kidnapper's vehicle). He told her to count to three, then pitch the grenade. He heard it, and calculated where he might be, so had her draw another circle. He had her head out in a certain direction, the toss another grenade. He used the timing of the blast to further determine where he was in relation to her. He also managed to break free of his restraints, and went to a furnace and busted a valve or something. He told his daughter to look for steam shooting up. Ta-da!

This film, whatever it's other merits, gets the Larry Award for finally doing something in a movie that is cool, shows intelligence, illustrates how well trained he is, and has not ever been done in any movie before, in the entire history of movies. Well done!

Now, was that so hard, film-makers of the world? Once the writer came up with the basic idea of counting how far away a sound is, then it's just a matter of doing a little arithmetic. This should serve as an inspiration to film-makers who are interested in making the kind of movies that I want to watch.

From the age of childhood, my friends and I would re-tell and re-enact cools scenes from cool movies, which we came to really value and appreciate.

Preceding this movie, I had watched part of a two-part movie (made for TV?), that copied almost scene for scene the opening of the first Bourne movie starring Matt Damon. The plot was quite a bit different, but the cool parts, of him having amnesia, but can take down a guy lightning fast with no knowledge of how he knew how to do that, etc, etc. On the one hand, we had a kidnapping scene play out in a highly original way; on the other hand, we had a writer not even try to do something original.

When I play blues solos, it has always been critical that I never repeat myself, that I always try something new. Of course, there are a lot of reflexive cliches that are hard for me to shake; and, in fact, I should shake all of those moves, otherwise, I'm not playing blues and expanding on the tradition.

How do others feel about originality, non-originality, predictability, being true to tradition, etc.?

Bonus question. Surely, the whole toss the grenade and count plot technique must have been done in other ways before in other films. Can anyone point me to something else like that? It was awfully cool.

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Old January 30th, 2013, 08:06 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I had to skim throught your post because I haven't seen the movie yet. Someday I will.

What cought my eye was you being critical of repeating yourself with blues solos. You just published 2,000 blues licks ! I mean is repetion a real problem for you?
I was talking with my publisher about doing a book "20 Blues Licks" but you beat me to the punch and to be honest 10 of mine were repetitive anyway.

By the way your book was here Monday when I got home. That should keep me busy for a long time. Great book !

As far as movies go it's amazing how many movies are just remakes.
Mister Deeds? Gary Cooper did it. Major Pain? Charlton Heston did it. (just two I caught on the classic movie channel both better than the remakes)

There's an idea for a book right there. One Million Movie Remakes.
Put this guy on the cover you'll make a million.
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Old January 30th, 2013, 03:36 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I liked the movie thought the circle thing was cool, but I'm pretty sure a 60 year old man who has supposedly spent his life around firearms might have needed more than his ears to pull it off. I thought the ending was pretty crappy, I won't issue any spoilers, but the dialog near the end is pointless, we all know what has to happen.
TD and Toto, saddle pals ridin' the trail of life together just like Tonto and the Lone Ranger.
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Old January 30th, 2013, 03:48 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I don't know if it's technical stuff and gizmos that you seek, or just uniqueness in storytelling or plot.

The Usual Suspects was a fairly novel way of telling a story.

Layer Cake has very good cinematography, is good overall, and had Sienna Miller in black lingerie.

The Limey is a Soderburgh movie, is pretty good, and has some different angles and ways of telling a story.

Savages had a little different way of telling a story, but not groundbreaking, and I didn't really like the movie. It's an Oliver Stone, and maybe you should see it and decide for yourself.

Two Days In The Valley was fairly unique too.

The French miniseries Carlos is about Carlos The Jackal and is unique, and fairly well reflects the pressure and estrangement of being a criminal, outlaw, terrorist, etc.

Mesrine is a French series about the criminal with that name.

The Valet is a French romcom and was fairly unique and good, certainly better than any American romcom I've seen in years.

Swimming Pool was unique in plot and story telling.
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Old January 30th, 2013, 03:55 PM   #5 (permalink)
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You might also consider the ESPN made mini series The Bronx Is Burning. I'm not crazy about baseball, The Yankees, or New York City, but it was a unique story and well done. The best work I've seen from Oliver Platt, and John Turturro did well as Billy Martin.
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Old January 30th, 2013, 04:00 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Both Cape Fears were uniquely good yet told the same story.
Clint Eastwood's later films like Unforgiven, Gran Torino, Mystic River have all been very original.
"Blues is a natural fact, is something that a fellow lives. If you don't live it you don't have it. Young people have forgotten to cry the blues. Now they talk and get lawyers and things. " - Big Bill Broonzy
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Old January 30th, 2013, 04:01 PM   #7 (permalink)
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You can't just go throwing grenades everywhere you want!!! Even in Instanbul.
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Old January 30th, 2013, 04:13 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by emu! View Post

You can't just go throwing grenades everywhere you want!!! Even in Instanbul.
What about Constantinople?

"If you can't say something nice... don't say nothing at all." - Thumper the Rabbit

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Old January 30th, 2013, 04:16 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I liked that the daughter in the Taken movies gets nastily killed in the first episode of the Following!

I liked the grenade 'trick' too... but, I think the trick that Bourne does where he holds the dead guy and jumps like 4 floors and uses the guy as his mattress/trampoline was even better...

Hey, Lar, let me know when you watch "end of watch" I want to hear your take on it.

and then...

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Old January 30th, 2013, 04:17 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I watched "Rubber" last night with my kids. It's about a tire that rolls around blowing things up telepathically. Odd movie.
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Old January 30th, 2013, 04:18 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I thought Taken 2 was pretty bad, actually.

Try Memento or Inception for groundbreaking.
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Old January 30th, 2013, 04:22 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I definitely get bored with repetition, it seems to pop up most in action movies, Michael Bay, etc.. it's also interesting to watch movies from previous decades with some perspective on how they were just cashing in on a trend at the time, like all the space movies that followed after Star Wars, or all the movies that ripped off elements from the Matrix and look incredibly dated already.

I also get tired of the action trope of one dude that takes on and kills hundreds of baddies virtually unscathed, seems like something that should've been left in the 80s but what can you do. It's refreshing to watch something where you don't have to leave your brain at the door.
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Old January 30th, 2013, 07:24 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Originality is over rated. I just happened upon the most recent iteration of the Three Musketeers. They tried way too hard. Huge 17th century airships? Why not just tell a much loved story with some charm and the way it was intended instead of more explosions.
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Old January 30th, 2013, 07:28 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Best film I've seen in a while:

No explosions or car chases. Just sushi.
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